S&P Syndicate Plc is making an unprecedented entrance into the US market, with plans to open two Patara Thai restaurants in Los Angeles and Maryland.

The company, which controls the S&P restaurant and bakery shop chain, will fund the venture through the issue and sale of 45m new shares (35m of which will be set aside for existing and new shareholders, while 10m will to be offered to the general public). Each US restaurant will cost around Bt30m (US$0.67m) and S&P expects the share issue to generate Bt225m and boost registered capital to Bt525m.

President Varakorn Raiva commented: "I will fly to the US this month to survey the market and look for locations to open our new Patara restaurants." He expects these to be operational within six months after his return and the finalisation of the investment plan.

S&P might still form a 50/50 venture with a Thai partner in the US to operate the restaurants.

Raiva explained that the company believes now is a good time for expansion to the US because it can benefit from the current depreciation of the baht against the US dollar.

In the first six months of this year, S&P recorded sales of Bt993m, an increase of 14% on the same period last year. Net profit was posted at Bt58m. The company expects total sales for this year to increase by 12% on 2000.